Jump to content
Complete France Forum

Snakes alive!


Recommended Posts

Just came back from walking the dogs through the fields, where the hay is just about high enough for cutting. Saw one of the dogs doing that silly front legs jump and pounce and went back to see what he had found. Thought it was probably a shrew or mole or something but then the grass began to really whip around and when I got there I saw the retreating back end of quite a large snake. Must have been close to 5 ft long and I was surprised both that it was so big and that it made such a commotion with the grass as it hurried away.

Whilst hanging onto the dog's collar I followed it for a moment or two to try to identify it but then let it go so not to stress it any further. It showed no sign of any aggression. I just checked out the link on Chris's website and it was quite unmistakably a Couleuvre verte et jaune or Western whip snake. What lovely elegant creatures they are and I have explained to the dog that he is not to bother them again!

Anne
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Yes, what lovely elegant creatures they are   [:-))]

This morning under one of our open buildings I heard the sound of baby birds, but couldn't quite see the nest on the beam.  A swallow came out from there doing danger noises, stopping on the top of the sliding door, then flew off.

I later heard the babies this afternoon.  When I came back from shopping my husband said he heard the parent making terrible danger noises again and he looked up and saw a snake about where I thought the nest was, one of the babies fell to the floor.  He rushed to get a stepladder and a big stick, but it was still a bit too high.  He kept hitting the snake, who just kept on at the babies and he thinks he ate two of them.  The snake finally dropped down, about a metre long and yellow and green.  It then went out and disappeared in the grass.

We would never have thought that they would climb so high and eat baby birds   [:'(]

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Poor snake Christine, they have to eat, it's no good asking them to be vegetarian!! I don't think that it will have eaten two birds, one would be enough to be going on with and  keep it going for a while, they only eat one thing at a time and you can see the bulge in its body as it slowly passes through.

The weather now is getting to be just about right to get them on the move, I had to stop the van today to let one get out of the road, unfortunately this is where a large number of them get killed at this time of year, mainly males looking for females, it doesn't help that they are dumb enough to hang around a bit absorbing the heat from the road surface.

They are indeed elegant, superb climbers and very fast when they decide to get going. We have quite a decent population in our garden and it's always a treat to watch a large snake disappear without a trace down a vole hole.

Remember, they are harmless, unless you are a rodent or baby bird!

Anne, what department are you in?

Chris

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And deaf, I understand, so shouting at them to get out of the way does no good!

We have only ever seen one snake (southern Manche) although I am always on the lookout. According to our neighbour there are no snakes in Normandy!

I once tried to photograph a python (small) taking a live mouse - foolish of me, my reactions are a hundred times too slow. The photos of the snake swallowing the mouse were interesting, though. The snake suffocated the mouse by squeezing it between its head and the top ribs (the snake's I mean). It then spent some time making sure that all was safe before it started to swallow. I'm pretty certain that is standard snake behaviour, so if yours was disturbed it may not have taken a chick at all. As Chris says, it is pretty impossible for a snake to double-swallow, and it wouldn't need that much food anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't be sorry you posted Christine, I understand the reaction, it's very difficult to be impartial to such things, but everything does have to eat and it's not always comfortable to watch. I suppose that because of my activities it becomes a requirement to not get "involved" in issues between species (except humans, that's different), a bit like a cameraman I suppose.

I guess it doesn't help when both the creatures involved are suffering serious population declines in France.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick,    You don't actually have that many different types of snakes in Normandy but you definitely have some.

Grass snake, Common adder (both the same as in the UK) and Coronelle lisse (smooth snake). You may soon have some others as the snake which is the subject of this thread, although numerically in decline, is extending its range north-wards, assumed to be a result of climate change.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It went so fast we didn't identify it, but it was probably an adder.

Am I right in my assumption that a snake will not eat if disturbed? Certainly the specimen I photographed had a very good look around before she ate - at least a few minutes of tongue-flapping. The eating process is so slow that the snake is very vulnerable at that stage, as the snake does not swallow the food, but moves forward and envelops it, moving it down to the stomach by flexing the muscles along its body.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's safe to assume that"s normally the case Dick, unless the prey is very small which it can be sometimes, a tiny lizard for example. The snake is extremely vulnerable when the prey is being pushed through the mouth into the body, this often requires the dislocation of the jaw and renders the snake more or less imobile. Having got past this point the snake will normally remain static somewhere as the food is slowly pushed through the system.

The vipers, which kill or paralise by venom, bite their prey and then normally release it, then go searching for it a short while later.

Chris

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Christine Animal"]

Sorry I posted...

 

[/quote]

I am so sorry about your birds Christine and please don't be sorry you posted. It is because you care so much about the world's creatures.

Perhaps I lived too long in Africa and the Far East and learned to love them all, the predator and the prey and especially I have a soft spot for cheeters and for snakes. They aren't evil, just, as Chris says, carnivores. Way back in the mid-sixties when my husband was posted to Singapore a friend of his, an amateur herpatologist got sick of hearing me whinge about my fear of snakes and kitted me out in jungle boots etc. and drove me out to a mangrove swamp looking for snakes. Well, we found a few and he managed to make me more interested than I was afraid. Then he made me a gift of a small non-venomous mimic of a coral snake called a kukri(sp). When we left, Red Fred was passed on to another "snakeaphobe". I was cured and I am sure his new owner also was eventually.

Now, here in France, I am happy to find a snake though I try to avoid a confrontation between snakes and dogs as there is always a chance that one or the other will be hurt. On the other hand, twenty odd years in Africa within the range of mambas cobras and puff adders and I only once had a dog bitten and she got over it and was much more circumspect from then on. I was only bitten once by a night adder and didn't even have to see a doctor. Poor little s*d, I stood on it, no wonder it bit me. I got over it as well.

Chris, I am in Dordogne in that corner where you are only 15 minutes drive from Gironde, Charente and Charent Maritime.

Anne
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christine

I think I would probably do the same.  Don't feel bad that you made a choice, I'm sure women, or at least most women would react in the same way.  You saw the birds as the helpless ones and you wanted to give them a chance.  There is nothing wrong with that in my eyes.

We have two cats, we got them primarily to help keep down the vermin.  However, if they are stalking birds I always shoo the birds away.  If they catch mice I hate that too, but I have to walk away, other wise I would prize the things from their mouths and set them free.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh. but Dotty, what would you have done? Would you have all the lions, cheeters, leopards, dolphins, not to mention our dogs, cats etc, told to either become veggies or to starve themselves out of existance. When God made the animals, she knew what she wanted and she made some of them predators and some prey and that is the way it is.

Anne

PS. You got the cats to keep down the vermin, I use a cage trap and then I drive them away from the house (and anyone else's) and set them free. Gives them a chance and we are retired so we have the time.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Dotty and Anne, you're sweet.  I was not even there.  I only told the story as I was most surprised that snakes climbed like that.  My husband always says to people who kill snakes "it is not their fault if they are a snake" and he was bitten by a viper when he was a child.  He did not try to kill it, just get it away from the birds.

I was asked why did I choose the birds,   I answered that I did not choose anything.  Then it was, oh yes you did, because...  Sorry, but it is this type of pettiness which made me regret I had posted, not about the snake or the birds.   [:)]

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christine - if you want to have a pop have the bottle to use my name.

I posted what I did because you call yourself 'Christine Animal' but whatever you say your post made it clear that in your eyes some animals are more equal than others - that isn't pettiness it's pointing out the illogicality of your position. Sorry for making you think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Christine Animal"]

Is the caterpillar story on another thread Ian, that I haven't seen?

Just curious Anne, why do you refer to God as she? Not that I'm really bothered! But it's the first time I hear that.

 

[/quote]

I thought everyone would have heard it one time or another. It comes up from time to time sometimes perhaps with some kind of commitment but I am afraid that with me it was just flippant.

Ian, I am really sorry but despite all my beliefs etc, about creatures, I HATE YOUR CATERPILLARS!

Anne
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, Christine, it's a very famous quotation from 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell.

What I mean is that by your use of the term 'babies' for the chicks, your sad smiley and the fact that you were generally in approval of hitting the snake with a stick you were clearly not in favour of nature taking its course. You wanted to protect the chicks - which is OK, but you are taking sides, and as several posters said, the snake deserves to live as well. The reason why birds have multiple young in a clutch is because the vulnerable young form an important part of the food chain for predators, so overall the species compensates for high losses by a high birthrate. That process also aids speciation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry Dick, but I think you are being a little unfair.  Whilst it is natural for the snake to eat the birds, it doesn't necessarily mean one has to like it. 

As Christine said she wasn't even there, just retelling the story.  I don't think there is anything wrong in asking why we choose one thing over another, in fact its very interesting, but I feel your post was a little accusational.

Sorry just my opinion and maybe the way I read it is different to how it was meant.  Perhaps we should all reread our posts to see if we can make them less hostile, after all its mothers day. [:D]  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what mothers' day has got to do with it, however, if I was unfair I apologise.

I still think, however, that if we are going to say that we are committed to animal welfare that is to all animals, whether they are cuddly and dependant or predatory and merciless. We shouldn't anthropomorphise by calling young birds 'babies' - that, to me, shows a lack of reality and proportion. It is projecting human qualities onto animals which they don't have. You can choose one wild animal over another if you want, but that doesn't make it right...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...